Thousands across former Yugoslavia republics mourn death of singer Djordje Balasevic
BELGRADE (SERBIA) – Crowds thronged the streets of Belgrade, Sarajevo and Zagreb on Saturday, lighting candles and laying flowers to pay homage to one of the most famous singers of the erstwhile Yugoslavia who died of the coronavirus.
Djordje Balasevic, 67, who had been appointed goodwill ambassador of the United Nations High Commissionaire for Refugees in 1998, died on Friday evening in a hospital in his hometown of Novi Sad in northern Serbia.
He is known for his emotional lyrics and soft pop music and was one of the most outspoken anti-war activists during the decades of conflict in the region after the breakup of former Yugoslavia in the 1990s. He belonged to that early tribe of singers who crossed the borders after the war ended to hold concerts in packed stadiums and halls in the region.
“That unique man who wrote the most beautiful love songs, the kindest versus about our childhoods, the saddest rhymes about our misfortune and the funniest verses about our mentalities should be celebrated,” said Rade Serbedzija, a Croatian-born actor and Hollywood star.
Crowds of mourners gathered in the towns of Split and Pula in coastal Croatia on Saturday. Fans in his native Novi Sad lit candles in the shape of a large heart in the city square. In Belgrade, Sarajevo and Zagreb hundreds thronged the main squares singing his most popular numbers.
“For me he is a symbol of a great time that has passed and that will never be repeated,” said Ivana Kurtesvki, of Belgrade.
“He was a man who marked our growing up, our youth, someone who through his songs was present at all our celebrations and parties,” said Zdenko, a fan in Zagreb.